Saturday, November 30, 2013

December 2, 1978, Hanoi Approved a Plan for Full Scale Invasion

Pen Sovann, a Khmer Vietminh later turned against his boss

Hun Sen, a Khmer Rouge Defector has become a dictator

BY Khmer Wathanakam

December 2, 1978 is a day that Khmer history repeated itself when Hanoi created a Khmer polity to serve its own interest in the third time--the Unified Khmer Issarak 1946, the Khmer Revolutionary Communist Party 1951, and the Khmer National United Front for National Salvation (KNUFNS) December, 02 1978.  A creating of the KNUFUS based on two factors: a historical fulfilment and an urgent need of Hanoi.  Historically, Vietnam at least failed three times to conquer Cambodia--a failure of Vietnamization in Cambodia by Emperor Minh Mang and his successor Thiev Tree in 1848, a failure to create an autonomous zone for the Khmer Vietminh after Geneva Conference 1954, and a forceful withdrawal of Vietcong troops from Khmer Rouge liberated zones in 1973.  Urgently, Pol Pot's troop's reckless and anarchic behaviors along Cambodia-Vietnam borders, created a serious security threat to Vietnamese civilians along the borders.  Pol Pot's purge against his own party members created exodus of Khmer Rouge defectors and refugee into Vietnam.  After series meetings of the Vietnamese Politburo members chaired by Le Duan, Vietnam solemnly declared that it could no longer coexist with a hostile regime of Democratic Kampuchea ( DK), and it officially set up the KNUFNS on December 2, 1978 to overthrow Pol Pot's regime by fomenting uprising from inside or launching a full scale invasion.

In Summer 1978, Vietnam set up training camps for the former Khmer Vietminh: Pen sovann, Chan Chi, Bou Thang, Chea Soth... along with the Khmer Rouge defectors: Heng Samrin, Chea Sim, Hun Sen, Pol Saroeun, Sar Kheng and so on.  An intensive program of military training and indoctrination was introduced to make sure they have enough skill to fight alongside "brother-in-arms" with the Vietnamese troops and still faithful to Hanoi and the Communist camp led by the Soviet Union.  By late 1978, a new strong Khmer Rouge defector battalion was commissioned and capable to engage in a tough battle abreast with their Vietnamese comrades.  As every thing set ready to go, Le Duc Tho told them that Vietnam would launch a full scale invasion on Cambodia in the upcoming dry season.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Globalization in Cambodia, Cured or Cursed?

Sovanna Six-Story Shopping Mall, Phnom Phenh

Slum Areas on Mekong River

By Khmer Wathanakam

Globalization is a process of international integration arising from the interchanging of economic and cultural activities.  The term originates from the European age of discovery, but it has rarely used until mid-1990 when this term has been heavily used by the IMF and many academics, and it became a study course of the International Relation Major.  Since the end of Cold War 1991 causing by a collapse of the Communist Bloc in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union,  globalization has sped up in a remarkable pace.  Separately, globalization has spread into Cambodia in full scale since the UN-organized election 1993.  As Cambodia abandoned the Communist central planned economy and embraced a free market economy, eventually, the country has opened its door to the world in the first time since 1975.  Through globalization, Cambodia has thrived with fast economic growth and modernization: it brings more jobs, increases incomes and standard of living, improves health care and education, and finally brings in technologies and new ideas to the people who have deprived for decades of war and economic embargo from the West.  However, based on a real condition in the country, dose globalization help or hurt the people in Cambodia?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

How Fair are the Media in Cambodia?

The CPP's propaganda machine
By Khmer Wathanakam

There are at least ten TV stations and hundreds of radio stations and news papers In Cambodia, but only few of them broadcast and distribute reliable news for people.  Although the constitution fully guarantees  free press but most media are tightly controlled by the ruling party, especially the TV stations that monopoly gripped by the CPP.  All ten TV stations broadcast the same news and speak the same language of the CPP's propaganda.  If they choose to cover the opposition and people's activities, they try to manipulate and distort the news from black to white and white to black.  As news on the government controlled media are not reliable, now most people turn to social media and Internet networks that mostly are free from the government restriction and very popular among the youths.  To attract more audiences, recently, many government controlled media started to cover some opposition activities, and now Mr. Khanharith, a minister of information, ordered to cut off tedious news from the state-run TVK covering government officials' activities.  However, all these measures fall short to gain trust from the public, for they don't change contents of the news and still heavily bias toward the ruling party.

Nothing unusual, during the election campaigns, every prime time of all the TV stations fully covered the CPP campaigns finished with negative images or distorted news from the opposition.  More than this, there was very appalling to the public when Sam Rainsey returned from his nearly four-year political exile with ten thousands of cheering people came to welcome him from airport without a minute of news coverage from all TV stations in the country while many prominent foreign news reporters flew thousands of miles to cover this historic event such as ABC, BBC, AFP, Kiodo, and so on.  In a true democratic country, such a great event is a live broadcast to people throughout the country and the world.  The media coverage in such a great event mutually benefits the people to receive true and vivid news as well as the media businesses which make more profit from their advertising sales when they can attract more audiences on their air time.   But no TV station in the country is brave enough to break the CPP's media grip, since losing license to operate the TV is more serious than losing the audiences.

Nevertheless, after election time, the CPP's controlled media started to change their tactics of distributing  news in order to compete with the most popular social media that are independent but bravely devoted to  divulge all truths to the public such as I love Cambodia Hot News, founded by a young brave student, Thy Sovantha, and numerous websites that fiercely speak against injustice in society. The CPP's new tactic by providing some air time coverages to the opposition activities and the people protests make no differences, for the contents of the news on TVs are still very distorted and heavy bias.  For instances, during many major opposition mass protests against election fraud, all the TVs did not broadcast the important news about the number of protesters, speeches and grievances of the people or showed large crowds of protesters on the Plaza, instead they focused on traffics and police protecting safety and showed few scattered protesters walking on the sidewalks.  Recently, in an event of violence at Wat Steung Meanchey, the TVs failed to air horrendous pictures of police violence but to show burning police trucks and blamed the protesters as opportunists.  But those police brutalities against innocent onlookers and monks were fully exposed by numerous social media and some foreign networks.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What Hun Sen and Shinzo Abe Want in the Visit

Hun Sen and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The Japan-China dispute Island Senkakus
By Khmer Wathanakam

There are two central themes that the two leaders, Hun Sen and Shinzo Abe want during the two-day visit in Cambodia.  Shinzo Abe naively asked Hun Sen, a close Chinese Ally, to support his effort in dealing with China on an altercation over an uninhabited island Senkaku while Hun Sen scares to dead to talk about a dispute over Kah Tral with Hanoi.  However, it is a fresh remind for Hun Sen to learn that this how a sovereign country conducts its foreign policies even a small uninhabited island is still very value for them, but Hun Sen's foreign policies involved with national sovereignty with the neighboring countries is totally submissive especially with Vietnam.  On the other hand, when Hun Sen's new unilateral created government is in question about its legitimacy, Hun Sen sees Abes's visit as a stamp of approval of his new dubious government.  To avoid criticism from Mr. Abe over election rig, Hun Sen pretends to ask him for Japan's expertise on the next election.

Japan and China fierce confrontation over a dispute island of Senkaku is fuelled by both historical animosities and nationalism.  Japan annexed this unclaimed island in 1895 when China maintained that this island is part of its "inherent" territory over hundreds of years.  A tangible value of this island is not much important to both countries but heavy political and historical value.  The New conservative Japanese Prime Minister Abe relentless effort to thwart Chinese aggression over Japanese claimed sovereignty seems produce little fruitful result but add more tension to the region while many countries in the region have already faced a rigid pressure from China over the South China Sea dispute that pushed Hun Sen into an awkward position in his clumsy foreign policies.  Last year, during ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen eerily made most ASEAN members dismayed  and upset even his own patron Hanoi over a controversial code of conduct in dealing with China on the dispute of South China Sea when he tried to appease China which is a main bank rolled supporter of his regime.  Now he seems make China a bit upset when he verbally supports Japan's policy dealing with China on the dispute based on  maritime and international law.  Coincidentally, is Hun Sen brave enough to confront with Hanoi over Kah Tral based on this maritime and international law?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How Khmer Leaders Deal with Their Traditional Enemy

King Sihanouk, a Khmer Leader Without Principle
Marshal Lon Nol, a Khmer Ultra-Nationalist
By Khmer Wathanakam

After independence from French Protectorate 1953, Cambodia again has faced a continuous threat from its neighbors, at this time not Thailand but decisively by Vietnam.  Facing this wily and powerful enemy, many Khmer leaders have chosen their own strategies based on their personal vengeance and chutzpah without deep insight and flexibility.  Consequently, our country has become weaker and almost paralyzed until today.  As most of us know that Vietnam has a 100-year plan to conquer our land after successfully took over our big chunk of territory Kampuchea Krom.  Now Vietnam final goal is to swallow our current land, Cambodia which already has been indirectly ruled by its proxy power, the CPP.  To win this historical battle against our traditional and powerful enemy, our current leaders should learn from past experiences and mistakes that our previous leaders had committed and use them as a guideline to avoid a repeated mistake for the current struggle.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Khmer Independence, Part of Untold Story

King Sihanouk and French Officers

King Sihanouk and his militias searched for Vietminh troop
By Khmer Wathanakam

Cambodia was bestowed under French protectorate when its leaders were unable to safeguard it from continuous onslaughts of its two powerful neighbors--Vietnam and Thailand. "The colonial era began without a shot and in a very tentative way" said, David Chandler, an Academic Historian.  King Norodom, a Thai's protege, concluded a treaty with  French officers in 1863 without Thai's knowledge, and the treaty was ratified by the French Government in Paris early 1864--it was too late to react when Thailand found out later.  Under the French protectorate, Cambodia received both positive and negative effects.  Positively, the French provided Cambodia full protection, introduced land reforms, ideas of democracy, judicial system, technology, and abolished slavery.  However, there were much more negative effects than positive ones: the French ceded parts of Khmer territory to Vietnam, imposed heavy taxes on people, plundered Khmer natural resources to enrich themselves, destroyed Khmer Language, new democracy, and refused to grant full independence to Khmer Nationalists.  Cambodia independence was not easily and freely granted by the French but by relentless struggles of our Khmer Heroes and most of them left out without recognition.

After the end of World War II, independence movements sprang up all over the world.  In Indochina, the struggles for independence spread throughout the three countries from many different groups of nationalist, Communist, monarchist, and democrat. In Cambodia, the combined forces of nationalist and democrat group was a spearhead of a struggle for independence followed by the communist and monarchist groups. When the World War was over, the French started to loosen its power grip to all people in their colonies.  exclusively, in 1946, the French allowed a first democratic election on our country to choose the constituent assembly. Three political parties were emerged led by three princes: Prince Sisowat Yuthevong, a father of Khmer Democracy, was a honored president of a Democratic Party, the most popular party in that time; a Liberal Party led by Prince Norodom Narindeth and a Progressive Party led by Prince Norodom Monthana.   Although the three princes had different political ideologies, but they shared the same loyalty to a throne and the same concern to  the growing power of Khmer Vietminh (the Communist party created by Ho Chi Minh in1930 to liberate the whole Indochina from the French).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Leadership We Should Trust

CNPR's Leaders

CNRP's supporters

By Khmer Wathanakam

A resumption of negotiation between the two parties--the CNRP and the CPP this week--has attracted numerous reactions from both supporters and civil society along with many political analysts. Some supporters have believed that the CNRP's negotiation with the adamant CPP would eventually create a coalition government or an inferior partnership with the CPP as the Forncinpec had practiced in the past, and others would even think that to negotiate means to join with the CPP.  For the civil society, some have expressed doubt about a success of negotiation while many political analysts have expressed optimism, and some even have forced both parties to speed up negotiation to end the current crisis by bestowing  national interest above every thing [national interest can be interpreted based on individual favor].  Whatever everyone demands will push the CNRP's leadership beyond its limited leverage in dealing with the apathetic CPP which always places personal power and Hanoi's interest above Khmer's interest.